By Christy Hammond
After a 5-2 victory on Friday night against Anaheim, the Detroit Red Wings stumbled in a 5-2 loss to Minnesota Wild on the following evening. Detroit outshot Minnesota 37-29 in the game, but failed to convert on any of its five power-play opportunities.
The first two goals came courtesy of Minnesota’s Owen Nolan, who scored one tally at 2:50 and the other marker on the power play at 8:15 in the first period. Nolan beat Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard on a hard shot from just below the right face-off dot to give Minnesota the early one-goal lead. On the second goal, Howard made a great save on a backhanded shot from a diving Brent Burns just outside the crease. With a delayed penalty, Nolan got the puck to the right of Howard just behind the red line before moving up and flicking a backhander past Howard.
Tomas Kopecky brought the Wings within one at 2:55 in the second frame when he scored on a centering feed from Ville Leino, who had rushed the puck down the right side of the ice before dishing a backhanded pass to Kopecky. The goal was his third one this season and commemorated a special day for the Kopecky family, who welcomed a new baby boy, Tobias, early that morning. Kopecky was unable to get a flight back to Detroit in time for the birth and opted to stay and play in the game even after receiving permission to go home and be with his family. He now has a special puck to give Tobias.
Minnesota extended their lead with two goals from Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Martin Skoula late in the second period.
Despite getting off 13 shots in the third period, Detroit only managed to score one more goal at 14:45. Leino tipped in a shot from the point by Brian Rafalski. With 1.8 seconds remaining in the contest, Stephane Veilleux scored an empty netter to give the Wild a 5-2 win.
Between strong goaltending from Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom, a fatigued Red Wings team and a scoreless power-play unit, the Wings just didn’t have the energy to win one at the Xcel Energy Center.
Chris Osgood did not make the trip as the team is giving him a mental breather. Howard has already returned to Grand Rapids to play in the Griffins’ game on Sunday afternoon. Surprisingly, veteran Kris Draper was a healthy scratch so that head coach Mike Babcock could keep Leino on that fourth line.
The Wings get a few days at home, including their participation in the Toast of Hockeytown fundraiser on Monday night, before hosting the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday in a Western Conference showdown.